New Research Report on Diet and Autistic Spectrum Disorders from the ADD Wellness Group

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Texas-Based Specialty Clinic, ADD Wellness, examines the possible links between metabolic systems and symptoms of ASD's.

Metabolic Issues in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are neurological disorders that often cause an impairment in the ability of an individual to appropriately interact with others in social settings, may limit their ability to clearly communicate on an emotional level, and frequently are expressed through repetitive movements or language patterns, says Mira Dessy, Nutrition Educator for the ADD Wellness Group based in The Woodlands, TX.

There tends to be a strong genetic component to autism and emerging evidence appears to indicate that environmental factors, such as heavy metals, pesticides and other chemicals may play a part. One study from The Journal of Toxicology states that there is “a significant positive association between the severity of autism and the relative body burden of toxic metals.” [Adams, et al. 2009] Other studies appear to show that children with ASD tend to have a statistically higher number of metabolic disorders. According to the Autism Treatment Network as many as 30% of all children with ASD also suffer from epilepsy while significant numbers of children with ASD may also have some sort of sensory disorder. [Levisohn, Paul M. 2007] [Ashburner, Jill. 2006]

There is now a growing body of research indicating that diet may play a role in the physical expression of autism. Metabolic dysfunction can include poor digestive capacity as well as limited nutrient absorption, and processing. This can lead to nutritional deficiencies of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. This can lead to higher than typical levels of oxidative stress which in turn affects bodily function for energy transport and detoxification. [Adams, et al. 2011] It appears that many of these metabolic issues can be clearly identified with metabolic testing and appropriate supplementation.

Dietary intervention is another key factor for many children. According to Julie Matthews, Certified Nutrition Consultant and author of Nourishing Hope, diet has been shown to be effective not only through anectdotal parent reporting, but also through scientific research. With a number of different diets that could be useful, it is important to appropriately assess the bio-individual needs of the child. Then empower the parents and other family members to fully implement that dietary strategy.

A greater awareness of possible metabolic links, nutritional levels and dietary interventions can be highly beneficial as an adjunct to other traditional therapies in providing support for those with ASD.


Adams, et al. Nutritional and metabolic status of children with autism vs. neurotypical children, and the association with autism severity. Nutrition & Metabolism. 8:34. 2011.

Adams, et al. The Severity of Autism Is Associated with Toxic Metal Body Burden and Red Blood Cell Glutathione Levels. Journal of Toxicology. Vol 2009, ID 532640. 2009.

Ashburner, Jill. Sensory processing and classroom emotional, behavioral, and educational outcomes in children with autism spectrum disorder. Univerity of Queensland, School of Health and Rehabilitative Sciences. 2006.

Levisohn, Paul M. The autism-epilepsy connection. Epilepsia. Vol 7, supp s9. 2007.


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Adrienne Langelier
ADD Wellness Group of The Woodlands
(830) 237-4822
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